Weather brings Way of the Cross participants of many faiths into Old St. Vincent's Church

Saturday, April 11, 2009
The Way of the Cross, an annual ecumenical service sponsored by the Downtown Council of Churches, takes place Friday inside Old St. Vincent's Church in Cape Girardeau due to inclement weather. More than 70 people participated in the event, which normally moves around town with stops coordinating with the Stations of the Cross. (KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com)

The ninth annual Way of the Cross in Cape Girardeau was somewhat lighter to bear this year, in both weight and travel.

In observance of Good Friday, a cross was to be carried through the city. The route was to start at Old St. Vincent's Church and make 14 stops along the way, including the Main Street Clock and the Southeast Missouri State University River Campus.

"Because of the weather, we -- or he -- decided that we would come inside. St. Vincent's is so beautiful inside anyway, and it helps that they have the 14 Stations of the Cross depicted here on the walls," said Dan Johnson, pastor of Evangelical United Church of Christ who helped organize the event. Instead, a much lighter cross was used as a different volunteer would carry it to each station, praying and reading scripture from the books of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John.

"Unlike Easter, with influences from elsewhere, Good Friday is purely Christian," Johnson said. "It's a great day for families to get together and celebrate the resurrection, but [Jesus] had to die first. This is the day we reaffirm our faith and remember that an innocent man was wrongfully accused, tortured and killed."

"I'm not a real, real religious man but some things have special meaning,"said John Hilpert of Cape Girardeau, who attends St. Mary's Cathedral.

The Way of the Cross, an annual ecumenical service sponsored by the Downtown Council of Churches, takes place inside of Old St. Vincent's Catholic Church Friday, April 10, 2009, in Cape Girardeau due to inclement weather. Over 70 people participated in the event, which normally moves around town with different stops coordinating with the Stations of the Cross. (KIT DOYLE ~ kdoyle@semissourian.com)

While serving in the military, Hilpert was stationed near Ephesus, Turkey, believed in some traditions to be the final home of Mary.

"On the morning of Good Friday we were standing on a bank looking down on St. John's Basilica," Hilpert said.

"As the sun was coming up, outside the basilica, I saw they were baptizing a baby. That was the most moving experience of my life."

"I've walked in almost every one of these," said Tim Ward, who attends Lynwood Baptist Church. "But ever since I was a little boy, I've always renewed my faith on Good Friday and Easter."

Diane Wicker, a musician at St. Mark Lutheran Church in Cape Girardeau, said, "This is my first time. This is usually a busy time of the year for me. so I like being just a participant today."

In all, an estimated 80 people, among them Baptists, Lutherans, Catholics, Presbyterians and Pentecostals, gathered in a Catholic church to worship one God.

Pat Carter, who serves in the Salvation Army, was in attendance as well. She said, "When I was a kid, I wondered, 'Why is it Good Friday? Jesus died.' Turns out, it was good for all of us."

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